The cap on Illinois teacher’s salaries. Don Harmon and the Illinois General Assembly act like Janus.

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Oak Park Democratic Party Illinois State Senator Don Harmon and JB Pritzker.

While patting themselves on the back for passing a year’s state budget for the first time in a while, Democrats and Republicans in Illinois included a 3% cap on teacher raises that can be applied to our pensions

A few years ago they followed the direction of their leader, Michael Madigan, and enacted a 6% cap. By doing that they managed to be both punitive to teachers and do absolutely nothing to address the $130 billion dollar pension liability. 

If a 6% cap can be both punitive and do nothing to the pension liability, imagine what a 3% cap can do and not do at the same time.

In a previous post I speculated that the General Assembly’s bi-partisan leadership snuck the 3% cap into the budget bill when nobody was looking.  Perhaps the rank-and-file members of the GA didn’t know about it or hadn’t had time to read the part of the bill that put a cap on teacher salaries.

It appears I was wrong. The members of the General Assembly in both parties appear to have known exactly what they were doing.

As a Springfield observer wrote me, “The limiting raises to 3 percent, was a
significant part of multipart deal that far more than just the leaders
signed off on. It was an ingredient baked into the cake that you will find
cannot easily be removed.”

Take State Senator Don Harmon, the liberal Democrat from liberal Oak Park and the Democratic Party’s Assistant Majority Leader.

My blogging co-hort John Dillon gets it exactly right when he posts today.

I talked with Sen. Harmon of Oak Park to ask if he even felt a little unsettled about passing a budget in which a 3% limit was included in local districts’ bargaining before the district itself was faced with paying the pension amount to the annuitant for life.

The answer was NO.

In fact, Sen. Harmon’s defense was that some years ago local districts were spiking, so the General Assembly put in a 6% limit which would be a cap and the locals would have to pay anything above 6%.  “Still,”he said, “ there’s been a lot of fudging and manipulation, but we (GA) noticed that the 6% really worked well in keeping people from spiking; thus, why not 3%?

That should work as well if not better than the 6%.”

When I asked about why the arbitrary assignment of 3%, the multi-year contracts that might add up to beyond 3%, the possibility of an inflationary economy, the intrusion into collective bargaining by the General Assembly – he dismissed that as a necessary means to limit the costs of pension abuses.

When I reminded him that the pension abuses were the result of the State’s not paying the required payments so that we are now looking at an unfunded liability of $150 billion for which we all pay an 8% interest, I was dismissed from the discussion.

You sit down with the devil (Rauner), my friends, and you do his work.

Before I was dropped from the echoing conversation, I told Senator Don Harmon that he and the GA were responsible for completing and creating a legacy for the hopefully one-time Governor.

Dillon suggests the Democrats in the Illinois General Assembly who decry the threat of Janus when they talk to teachers are decrying crocodile tears.

Don Harmon and the GA are Janus.

6 Replies to “The cap on Illinois teacher’s salaries. Don Harmon and the Illinois General Assembly act like Janus.”

  1. &, to wit: our pension fund has historically been used as the state piggy bank, legislators dipping into the funds to use our money for other projects.
    If you think “fixing” our highways & roads really occurs (just look at all the potholes & road wear on highways; it hasn’t snowed all that much the previous 2 winters {yeah, “fake” climate change}), yet the streets are still crappy.
    Could that be because they’re not really fixed; cheap material is used so pet companies can make $$$$, over & over again? It seems that every year they’re fixing I-94 (Edens Xway): looks good to the wealthy communities up there which would demand excellent driving conditions, even though I, for one, have seen nothing wrong w/the Edens, in lieu of so many other roads & highways in need of repair. So the joke (not really) goes: there are 5 seasons in Chicago (& IL-Annoy): fall, winter, spring, summer & construction.

    Not really funny when the money id being taken from people who worked for it their whole lives.

    It’s the revenue, stupid!!

  2. Inflation was far above 3% for many years, and may well happen again. Trump’s tariffs and trade wars are going to make a lot of things cost more.

  3. Sneaky! I follow what is going on in Springfield and was not aware of the 3 percent cap. In 1999, I got a 15 % for second to last year and a 20% the last year when I retired after 37 years. I knew it would not last, and soon a 6% was the max. Most teachers in Illinois need the 6% to live in retirement, especially since Social Security ( if earned) is offset dramatically. Further, the living spouse, If one is a public school teacher, gets no SS benefits if their deceased spouse had earned SS. All said, I am glad to be a public school teacher in Illinois and encourage others to consider teaching in Illinois.
    Dr. Charles W. Birch, Morris, Illinois

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